[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/24/art.berlin1.cnn.jpg caption="Onlookers gather for Obama's Thursday speech in Berlin, Germany."]BERLIN, Germany (CNN) – Crowds have grown and thinned throughout the day outside of the swank Adlon Hotel where Barack Obama and his entourage are preparing for the Democratic presidential candidate’s visit here.
Police have closed off part of the street in front of the hotel which sits in the shadow of the Brandenburg Gate as throngs lean on metal barriers, cameras in hand, hoping to get a glimpse of the man himself.
Just a short walk up the road is the Victory Column where Obama will deliver his remarks, a speech he says will be a “substantive articulation of the relationship” he would like to see between the United States and Europe.
Although Obama and his aides have strongly denied politics plays a role in today’s event, a leisurely stroll towards the event site left a different impression.
Obama volunteers have set up shop on street corners, and are registering Democrats who live abroad to vote. “Anyone an American citizen?” bellowed one woman holding a homemade “register to vote” sign. “If you’re a Democrat abroad you must register to vote,” yelled her male counterpart. Takers were quickly ushered to a folding table manned by several eager Obama supporters, where they were provided paperwork to fill out.
A few were looking to cash in on the Obama frenzy. For 5 Euros one could pick up two unofficial Obama buttons. An Obama ’08 button with pictures of both John Kennedy and Barack Obama appeared to be doing well, but the prize went to the button that had Obama’s head atop the body of a beer garden waiter holding seven huge glasses of German brew. The button’s slogan? OBAMAFEST! Of course.